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Free outdoor gear library in Cortez gets new website

Kristen Tworek, assistant director of School Community Youth Collaborative, poses in the gear lending library in August 2021.
Residents now have increased access to recreation

The free outdoor gear library in Cortez, sponsored by Great Outdoors Colorado, Montezuma Inspire Coalition and the School Community Youth Collaborative, has a new website that makes borrowing outdoor equipment easier than ever.

The gear lending library was started in 2020 to lend outdoor equipment to organizations, individuals and families who might not be able to afford or have access to gear. The library makes it much easier for parents to take their children on outdoor adventure trips.

The sponsors of the Cortez library saw the need for gear, and knowing that the lack of proper gear can keep people from participating in outdoor activities, they set out to ensure the equipment was readily available.

“We hope to remove the barrier by providing gear to local organizations and individuals so that children, youth and families can experience the outdoors,” the library’s website says.

Christine Brice-Nelson, director of School Community Youth Collaborative, says the library is a sustainable way to enjoy Colorado outdoors.

“If someone is only going to use (the gear) for a short amount of time, like one or two trips, they can come and rent it from us and not have to use a backpack just a couple times and get rid of it,” she said.

The library also allows users to try out activities such as mountain biking or paddleboarding before investing in their own equipment.

Montezuma Inspire Coalition, which hosts the gear library’s website, is a group of 10 nonprofits that are passionate about helping children get outside and enjoy nature. Their mission is “to serve every kid in every ZIP” and “increase opportunities for all youth in our county to experience the outdoors.”

They also hope youths will help run the library. For the past several years, Iinanibaa Cordova has been the young person actively involved in helping with the library and rentals.

The website allows people to view and reserve gear. Because the gear is first-come, first-serve and is available in limited supplies, it should be ordered at least 24 hours in advance.

While the gear is free, a $10 deposit is required, but is refunded once the outdoor gear is returned and in good condition. A liability form is required prior to pick up.

The equipment is purchased through funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and is available to all in the community. As of August 2022, the library has served 305 people for the year. Next year, the goal is to serve at least 500.

The pickup location for gear is north of the Cortez Recreation Center, by the tennis courts. Summer hours are Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and fall hours – which started Sept. 19 – are Monday through Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Some of the gear available for camping excursions are water jugs, sleeping bags, backpacks, tents and camping stoves.

Outdoor adventure gear include life jackets, snowshoes, snow boots, bikes, disc golf sets, paddleboards, skis, sleds, river tubes and kayaks.

Other items available for a day in the park or other activity are cornhole, helmets, skateboards, scooters, tennis rackets and balls, pickleball sets, soccer balls, basketballs and more.

For more information about the outdoor gear library or to reserve equipment, visit the website online at: https://www.scyclistens.org/gear-lending-library.